Fans of Disney+’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series will know Larry Saperstein as Big Red, the adorkable and lovable East High student who always stands by his best friend and isn’t afraid to be himself. But he’s so much more.
The 23-year-old Islip, New York native came out publicly as bisexual for the first time at the beginning of June, Pride Month, in a perfectly funny and sweet TikTok. While his bisexual identity has been a part of his life for years, this was the first time he’d talked about it since becoming a star on High School Musical.
"I mean truthfully, this is not my first Pride," he laughs."But it is the first time in the public eye that I was celebrating it, which has been really nice. I feel I've gotten to do some things that I haven't really been able to do before. And just share more and speak more. And it's been a really awesome thing to be able to do, especially in a post-2020 world."
He’s also proud to be a part of a show that features so many queer actors, a queer creator, and queer characters. The show was created by Tim Federle, and stars other out actors Frankie A. Rodriguez, Joe Serafini, (who play a couple on the show and are one in real life), Joshua Bassett, and Julia Lester.
"I think it's so indicative of what high school looks like right now, especially a high school theater program," he says. "So many people in high school theater are queer or have different identities or different perspectives. And I feel it wouldn't be right to be doing a show like High School Musical: The Musical: The Series without those perspectives and identities."
And he knows how special that is, and how special it is that he can add to that. "Our fans are so diverse and they are so representative of our community, I think. And so I think me having one more identity thrown into the mix of our cast — which we already have so many people with so many different identities in our cast — it just will mean something to maybe some of those people that are already fans of the show that did not yet see their specific identity represented."
More specifically, he wants to celebrate being a bisexual man, an identity that is still often erased, even within LGBTQ+ circles.
"One of the things that I learned in the past year was that if I am not speaking about things, then they will be erased. And I think especially with bisexual men in particular, that is oftentimes an identity that's overlooked. And so I feel anything that I can do to speak it into the world and show people that we're here and we're creating things and we're speaking our mind and using our platform I think is helpful."
One of the ways he’s done that recently was by releasing a video on his social media of him tap dancing under bisexual mood lighting to the Charlotte Sands song "Dress," while wearing multiple outfits, including one killer punk rock look in a dress and fingerless gloves.
He first heard the song on a shuffled playlist. "And two days later I was like, that song is still stuck in my head," he remembers. "I love the message of the song because it's about a woman that's really attracted to this man wearing a dress. And she feels that makes him more masculine and that makes him more attractive and exploring his feminine side is really special. And I just loved that message, and I thought it was really appropriate for my story and what I was going through."
Just because Pride is over, that doesn’t mean Saperstein is done. He has a lot more coming, both on High School Musical, and in his real life.
"We have some really cool numbers coming up," he says of HSM. "There's still another one or two group numbers that are going to be really exciting that I think people are going to really respond to. I do have another thing coming up soon that I think people will really love. So yeah, there's still a lot more."
You can also expect more videos like his Pride one. "I'm looking forward to doing more things like that tap dance video," he says. "I love tap dancing. I feel like the video medium is a great way to bridge two worlds of things that I love. And so I'm hoping to do more of that throughout the summer and yeah, and hoping to just create more things that I can put out into the world."
You can watch Saperstein on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series every Friday on Disney+.